THE district illustrated
and described in the following pages is, like many other interesting
by-ways in the Highlands, still comparatively unknown. Of its scenes and
legends little has been written, and what has been is to be found in
scattered fragments through a multitude of books.
In the preparation of this
volume, the information contained in the works hereafter mentioned has
been freely made use of. The accounts given in Fordun's Chronicle
(A.D. 1380), Dean Monro's Description of the Western Isles (1549),
Martins Description of the Western Islands (written about 1695),
Pennant's Tour in Scotland (1772), and MacCulloch's Western
Isles (circ. 1819), form a consecutive series of description and
observation from the fourteenth century downwards. The earlier spelling of
place-names was phonetic, and it is surprising how little, in many hundred
years, the pronunciation of those Gaelic words has changed. Many islands
mentioned in Monro's book, however, cannot now be identified; and even in
MacCulloch's Description, written just ninety years ago, there are two
islands, called by him Garveloch-na-skian and Garveloch-na-more,
which are not now known by these names. Of the history much may be gleaned
from such books as Adamnan's Life of St Columba, edited by Dr Skene
from Bishop Reeves' translation; St Columba, by the Rev. D.
MacGregor of Inverallochy; Skene's Celtic Scotland, Gregory's
History of the Western Highlands and Islands, Dr Dugald Mitchell's
History of the Highlands and Gaelic Scotland;
A Memorial History of the Campbells of Melfort,
written by one of the family; Cosmo Innes's Origines Parochiales,
the Fasti Ecclesiae and the 0ld and New Statistical
Accounts. A most interesting book which deals with Northern Rural
Life, by the author of Johnnie
Gibb of Gushetneuk, gives an
account of the great famine of 1698-1700; while a detailed description of
the prehistoric forts of Lorn may be found in Dr Christison's Early
Fortifications in Scotland. The Duke of Argyll's Adventures in
Legend, Lord Archibald Campbell's Records of Argyll, and
Archibald Brown's Memorials of Argyllshire, teem with interesting
legends and traditions of the district, and may be read with pleasure. To Mr. Henry Whyte (Fionn),
Glasgow, thanks are due for the loan of his father's manuscripts, map, and
sketches relating to the history of Easdale.
frequent reference to the books alluded to, the greater bulk of the
history incorporated in this description of Netherlorn and its
neighbourhood was communicated orally by the best informed "seannachies"
the district has known in recent years--the late Mr. John Clerk, Kilbride,
and Miss Jane Phillips, Luing. These old stories are gradually, with the
increase of English speaking, being lost: it would seem as if they object
to being translated from the language of the Bards into prosaic, alien
English. At any rate the younger generation of Highlanders takes much less
interest in them than its fathers did; and soon what is not written will
be irrevocably lost.
These articles appeared
originally in the pages of The Art Journal (1908): they are now
considerably enlarged. The drawings are from the pencil and brush of one
who has been happy in knowing thoroughly and lovingly the country he has
so well delineated; the chapters are from the "prentice hand" of a.
country physician with no previous experience of literary work, who has
been glad to second the efforts of the artist in the depiction of the
characteristic scenery of Netherlorn, and to gather together a little of
what a few years ago was an abundant folklore.
EASDALE, October 1909.